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7-Day Cinema Diet #19

7-Day Cinema Diet #19

Adam Marsh
QUAD Cinema Programmer

We head on over to the BFI player to draw attention to Mark Cousin’s epic 8 hour film Women Make Film (here broken up into five easier digestible films).

An epic and eye opening treaty on film history told from the point of view of women directors. Add this to a bunch of new films appearing on MUBI, Netflix, and the usual BBC iPlayer and All 4 channels there is more than enough to keep that cine-file brain from drying up.

Day 1 – BBC iPlayer

Just Jim (2015)

Craig Roberts makes his directorial debut in this black comedy in which he also stars. Welsh teenager Jim (Roberts) is an outcast at school with no friends when he meets his new neighbour, mysterious American Dean (Emile Hirsch). Following Dean’s advice, Jim learns how to be cool, making friends and going on a date with his crush Jackie (Charlotte Randall). But there’s more to Dean than meets the eye and before long Jim finds himself on a downward spiral.

One Touch Of Venus (1948)

Eddie Hatch (Robert Walker) is a window dresser at a large department store; he’s become especially fond of one of his mannequins who looks like the sort of girl he’s like to meet, and one night he impulsively gives the dummy a kiss. To his tremendous surprise, the mannequin comes to life, and it turns out to be inhabited by the spirit of Venus, the Goddess of Love (Ava Gardner). Suddenly romance is in the air as Eddie’s fellow employees throw caution to the wind and finally express their infatuations with their co-workers; however Eddie is too intimidated to follow through on his feelings for Venus, even though she’ll only be in human form for 24 hours.

The Salesman (2016)

An acting couple find their relationship tested when the wife is attacked in their home as they work on a production of Arthur Miller’s Death Of A Salesman. The husband is determined to find the assailant, despite his wife’s objections. From Asghar Farhadi, the Oscar winning director of A Separation.

Short Term 12 (2013)

Both Grace (Brie Larson) and her boyfriend Mason (John Gallagher Jr.) work at a short-term care centre for troubled children. Although the facility has numerous residents, the film closely follows the experiences of 17 year-old Marcus (Lakeith Stanfield), who is concerned about leaving the facility when he turns 18, and newcomer Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever), who although troubled is also gifted, and we come to know the harsh realities of their experiences and ongoing abuse. Grace, who encourages the kids to talk about the reasons which brought them to the centre, is battling with her own troubled past and is reluctant to open up about it..


Day 2 – All 4

Sweet Country (2017)

A sweeping, historical epic set against the backdrop of a stunning Australian landscape, Sweet Country follows the story of Sam, a middle-aged Aborigine man who becomes a wanted criminal after a violent altercation with a bitter war veteran. When Sam is forced to flee across the harsh desert country, pursued by a hunting party led by the local lawman, the true details of his supposed crime start to surface and the community begins to question whether justice is really being served.

Ida (2014)

Anna is a young novitiate nun in 1960s Poland who, on the verge of taking her vows, discovers a dark family secret dating back to the years of the Nazi occupation. Award winning Polish born director Pawel Pawlikowski (Last Resort – BAFTA award, My Summer Of Love) returns to his homeland for this Oscar winning film.

Cold War (2018)

Pawel Pawlikowski follows his Oscar winning Ida with the stunning Cold War, an epic romance set against the backdrop of Europe after World War II. Shot in luminous black and white, it’s a wistful and dreamlike journey through a divided continent and a heart-breaking portrait of ill-fated love.

Alpha: The Right To Kill (2019)

A gritty thriller set against the Philippines Government’s crackdown on drugs. A top police force is tasked with taking in Abel, one of the most notorious and frightening drug lords in the city. Things soon escalate into a violent and lengthy battle in the slums, one that will have serous implications and repercussions for all involved.


Day 3 – Mubi

Gumnaam (1965)

Seven people win an all expenses paid holiday abroad, but instead are dropped in a remote area by plane. They come across a mansion where a butler has been waiting for them, and find that they have been brought there to deliver justice for a crime they were all involved in. This classic mid-60s Indian suspense thriller is a hugely enjoyable adaptation of Agatha Christie’s mystery novel And Then There Were None. A musical murder mystery with a totally legendary soundtrack: The cult dance number “Jean Pehechan Ho” famously appeared in Ghost World.

Awaara (1951)

After feuding with his dad, a judge, Raj Raghunath leaves home and falls in with criminal Jagga. Once he realises that his new friend is a key figure from his family’s past, Raj kills Jagga. As the crime happened in the elder Raghunath’s jurisdiction, Raj’s case is set to be heard by his father. Raj Kappor’s watershed film belongs to the Golden Age of Hindi cinema, combining multiple genres and serving as a social critique of class in newly independent India. A milestone in introducing global audiences to Bollywood, the film also launched Kapoor’s illustrious Chaplinesque character.

The Diving Bell And The Butterfly (2007)

Based on true events, this film tells the story of wealthy magazine editor Jean-Dominque Bauby, who after a stroke is left almost entirely paralysed. Unable to move or speak, he retreats into this mind, but after learning to communicate by blinking his left eye, he begins to tell his story. Julian Schnabel took home the Best Director prize at Cannes for this touching drama doubling as a daring formal experiment (the first act is filmed entirely from the main character’s point of view). With ingenious cinematography from Janusz Kaminski and starring an excellent Mathieu Amalric.

So Long, My Son (2019)

Factory workers Liyun and Yaojun are a couple reeling from a devastating family tragedy during the tumultuous years between the 1980s and the 21st century. Constricted by the one-child national policy; their lives are gradually transformed under the impact of China’s changing identity.

China’s one-child policy is the historical backdrop for this sweeping chronicle of family and loss, a journey at once intimate and epic between a tragic past and a resilient present. Above all, its humanist beauty lies in its heart-wrenching performances – winning Best Actress and Actor in Berlin.


Day 4 – BFI Player

Bunuel In The Labyrinth Of The Turtles (2018)

In a stranger-than-fiction tale befitting the master surrealist filmmaker himself, Bunuel In The Labyrinth of The Turtles tells the true story of how Bunuel made his second film. Both a buddy adventure and fascinating episode of cinematic history, this acclaimed animation utilises sensitive performances, as well as excerpts of Bunuel’s own footage from the production of Land Without Bread, to present a deeply affecting and humanistic portrait of an artist hunting for his purpose.

Belle de Jour (1967)

Catherine Deneuve gives an electrifyingly enigmatic performance as the happily married but bored Parisian who takes to spending her afternoons working at a high-class brothel. Elegance and depravity go hand in hand as Buñuel explores the psychological and moral ambivalence of bourgeois lives – and fantasies. True to his surrealist roots, Luis Buñuel blurs the distinction between ‘reality’ and Séverine’s masochistic fantasies; he also eschews sensationalism, opting for subtle details all the more intriguing in their ambiguity. Like the production design and costumes, Sacha Vierny’s cinematography and Séverine herself, this provocative classic exudes elegance – but that, Buñuel reminds us, counts for little compared to the inner life...

Last And First Men (2020)

Two billion years ahead of us, a future race of humans finds itself on the verge of extinction. Almost all that is left in the world are lone and surreal monuments, beaming their message into the wilderness. Based on the cult science fiction novel by Olaf Stapledon, Last And First Men is the first and only feature film directed by acclaimed composer Jóhann Jóhannsson (Sicario, Arrival). Situated halfway between fiction and documentary and beautifully filmed in 16mm black and white, Jóhannsson artfully combines music, image and narration (voiced by Tilda Swinton), to form a powerful poetic meditation on memory and loss.

Lynn + Lucy (2019)

Lynn (Roxanne Scrimshaw) and Lucy (Nichola Burley) have been friends their whole lives; inseparable at school and now living as neighbours and young mothers on an estate. But when a tragedy befalls the pair, a chain of events is set in motion that will severely test their bond, bringing out fears and resentments in the local community. This beautifully acted and haunting film, elegantly shot in 4:3 academy ratio, manages the trick of transcending its kitchen sink aesthetic and slilce-of-life scenario to deliver something akin to a modern morality play. Without easy answers or resolutions, the film presents the thorniest ‘what if?’ scenario, confronting us with a taut thriller of bad choices, misunderstandings and escalating social unrest.


Day 5 - Netflix

The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)

A modern Mark Twain-esque adventure starring Shia LeBeouf (Fury) as a small time outlaw turned unlikely coach who meets Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a young man with Down Syndrome on the run. With the dream of becoming a professional wrestler with Dakota Johnson (Suspiria) as Zak’s loving career. Also starring Jon Bernthal (Fury), Thomas Haden Church (Sideways), Bruce Dern (Nebraska) plus ex-wrestlers like Mick Foley and Jake The Snake Roberts.

Out Of Sight (1998)

Meet Jack Foley (George Clooney), the most successful bank robber in the country. On the day he busts out of jail, he finds himself stealing something far more precious than money, Karen Sisco’s heart. She’s smart. She’s sexy, and unfortunately for Jack, she’s a Federal Marshall. Now, they’re willing to risk it all to find out if there is more between them than just the law. From Steven Soderbergh, the director of Logan Lucky and Traffic.

The Nightingale (2019)

Set in 1825, Clare, a young Irish convict woman, chases a British Officer through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family. On the way she enlists the services of an Aboriginal tracker named Billy, who is marked by trauma from his own violence-filled past.

Inception (2010)

Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a professional thief with a difference: the spoils he goes after are not material objects but the thoughts, dreams and secrets buried in the minds of other people. This rare talent has cost him dear, rendering him a solitary fugitive stripped of everything he ever really cared about. When he is offered a chance for redemption by reversing the process and planting an idea rather than stealing it, he and his team of specialists find themselves pitted against a dangerous enemy that appears to pre-empts their every move. With Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger and Tom Hardy. Plus the requisite Michael Caine appearance.


Day 6 – BFI Player

Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema Part 1 (2019)

Mark Cousins’ epic documentary, executive produced by Tilda Swinton and Clara Glynn, offers a completely fresh take on history, exploring the development of the medium exclusively through work directed by women. The first of five programmes explores how directors achieve tone, introduce characters, capture conversations and handle framing and tracking shots. The examples used range across the decades and around the globe, including the pioneering Hollywood director Dorothy Arzner, Elaine May, Agnes Varda, Vera Chytilova, Maren Ade and Yuliya Solntseva.

Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema Part 2 (2019)

The journey continues in a wide-ranging programme that focuses on movement, simplicity of style, the story of films about children, dreams, the power of the close-up and the way discovery and revelation shape some of cinema’s most iconic moments. A lavish feast of rare clips are woven together like pearls on a string as we are encouraged to appreciate the skill of Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, Sabina Sumar’s Silent Waves, Alice Guy’s Madam’s Cravings, Maya Deren’s Meshes Of The Afternoon, Aparna Sen’s 36 Chowringhee Lane and many, many others.

Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema Part 3 (2019)

Sex, religion and politics are among the themes in the third programme of the documentary with a dazzling look at how women directors have filmed bodies, shown sex on screen, created some of the best films about religion, and tackled politics from the silent era to the 21st century. Examples here include Leni Reifenstahl’s notorious The Triumph Of The Will, Kathyrn Bigelow’s Strange Days, Catherine Breillat’s Fat Girl, Donna Deitch’s Desert Hearts, Lynne Ramsay’s Ratcatcher and Yuliya Sointseva’s Soviet fantasy The Enchanted Desna.

Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema Part 4 (2019)

Melodrama, memory, classic genres and tense emotions come under the spotlight in the fourth programme of the documentary. Women’s contribution to science-fiction, squirm-making horror and unbearably tense thrillers ranges from Rachel Talalay’s Tank Girl to Marleen Gorris’ A Question Of Silence via Carol Morley’s Dreams Of A Life and Ida Lupino’s Outrage. Gems of memory and time take us to the work of Chantal Akerman, Maria Plyta and Mati Diop. Filled with names you will know and filmmakers that go to the top of the list of talents you are keen to explore further.


Day 7 – BFI player

Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema Part 5 (2019)

The journey ends with the biggest themes of love, death and the meaning of life. That allows for a final stunning selection of work by women directors that includes Euzhan Palcy’s Sugar Cane Alley, Jane Campion’s The Piano, Kinuyo Tanaka’s Love Letters, Caroline Leaf’s The Street and Binka Zhalyazkova’s The Attached Balloon. The whole stunning work concludes with a song and a dance courtesy of Alice Guy, Margaret Tait, Celina Sciamma, Vera Stroyeva and the irreplaceable Agnes Varda. Our understanding of cinema history will never be the same again.

It Couldn’t Happen Here (1987)

Originally conceived as an hour long based on the Pet Shop Boys 1987 album Actually, It Couldn’t Happen Here turned into a full scale feature film directed by Jack Bond (Anti-Clock). Alongside Joss Ackland, Gareth Hunt and Barbara Windsor, Neil Tennany and Chris Lowe travel on an extraordinary adventure from the coast to London, encountering a curious array of eccentric characters along the way. Pop surrealism meets classic road movie, the film is peppered with hits from the duo’s first two studio albums, including ‘West End Girls’, ‘It’s A Sin’ and ‘Always On My Mind’.

Young Soul Rebels (1991)

Youth culture meets identity politics in this part-thriller, part-gay love story set in London in 1977, days before the Queen's Silver Jubilee celebrations. The hedonistic world of pirate DJs Chris and Caz is shattered when a close friend is killed while cruising in the local park. The black community suspect the National Front, but the police pull Chris in as a suspect. This beautifully crafted period piece, a bold and stylish debut feature from Isaac Julien, paints a convincing picture of late-'70s London.

Little Joe (2019)

Against company policy, plant breeder Alice takes home a newly created species as a gift for her teenage son, Joe. They christen it ‘Little Joe’ but as it grows, so too does Alice’s suspicion that her new creations may not be as harmless as their nickname suggests. From visionary director Jessica Hausner (Lourdes), Little Joe is a cool, witty and unsettling sci-fi starring Emily Beecham (Daphne, Into The Badlands) and Ben Whishaw (Skyfall, Mary Poppins Returns).